The prevalence of childhood obesity, as with that of adulthood, has increased considerably over the past few years and has become a serious public health problem. Once established, its treatment is very difficult and, hence, prevention of childhood obesity using different types of intervention appears promising. The objective of this present report is to review interventions that had been conducted over the past 11 years in the environment of the family, schools and community, and directed towards the prevention of childhood obesity. We reviewed the different strategies employed, the different criteria used in defining weight status, the evaluation and follow-up methods, and the degree of effectiveness.
Benefits other than reduced weight gain were assessed, as well. In our review, we selected 14 intervention studies. The differences in design, duration and outcome assessments make direct comparison difficult. Nevertheless, it seems that nutritional education and promotion of physical activity together with behaviour modifications, decrease in sedentary activities and the collaboration of the family could be the determining factors in the prevention of childhood obesity. Other important benefits regarding healthy habits apart from the changes in weight status were pursued in the majority of the studies reviewed. The need for well-designed studies that examine a range of interventions remains a priority.